North Allegheny swimmers set national records in relays

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Thursday, December 21, 2017 | 10:33 PM


It is early in the season, and already the North Allegheny boys swimming team likely has set national public school records in two relay events.

And the best probably has yet to come.

“The boys' goals are lofty,” Tigers coach Patrick Wenzel said. “We'd love to put up some relay times that make people say ‘wow.' ”

“We're hoping to swim even faster come our championship meets at the end of the season,” senior Andrew Zhang said.

Zhang, senior Mason Gonzalez, junior Jack Wright and sophomore Rick Mihm unofficially established National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association standards in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1 minute, 20.46 seconds) and 400 freestyle relay (2:57.59) in a dual meet Dec. 14 at home against Mt. Lebanon.

The foursome smashed the existing figure in the books (1:20.95) the Tigers posted at the PIAA Class AAA championship last season.

In the 400 freestyle relay, they bettered a mark Granada in Livermore, Calif. (2:59.00) recorded in 2014.

Wenzel said the Tigers were on fire after the USA Swimming Winter Junior Championships East the previous week in Knoxville, Tenn. There, they took first place in the 200 freestyle relay (1:19.83) and 400 freestyle relay (2:55.96) competing for the Allegheny North club team.

Gonzalez, a Stanford recruit, is eyeing the PIAA championship in March, where the Tigers are defending champion.

“With a full rest cycle, being shaved and wearing competition suits, we think that our times will not hold for too long once we get to the state (meet),” Gonzalez said.

Zhang, a Northwestern recruit, said the Tigers are focused.

“We always hold each other accountable not just on race day, but through every set during practice,” he said.

Mt. Lebanon coach Tom Donati said the Tigers — the six-time defending WPIAL champions — are one of the best teams he has seen.

“(They are) great boys, too, so polite,” Donati said.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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